BOB:  Minor league wrap-up

Minor league attendance strong again in 2012

The final numbers are in for the regular season and Minor League Baseball sold 41,279,382 tickets this year. This marks the eighth year in a row that attendance was better than 41 million and it’s a modest increase from the year before. It’s still a couple of million short of the record set back in 2008, but the fact that Minor League Baseball has been able to hold its attendance without the big dips and spikes that MLB has experienced is a testament to minor leagues’ value and family focus.

The Lehigh Valley IronPigs led the minors in attendance in the United States. They sold 622,421 tickets in the second straight year they led in total attendance and their 9,153 per game average was the best for a third year in a row. Double-A’s leader was the Frisco RoughRiders who sold 488,224 with an average of 7,076. The Dayton Dragons sold out all their games, pushing their sellout streak to 913 games.

Minor league teams change allegiance

Every odd number year, player development contracts expire unless they’ve been extended previously. That leaves openings for minor league teams to shift their affiliate from one major league team to another and while most teams stand pat, we have seen four changes so far. Two Triple-A teams have changed hands with the Toronto Blue Jays and New York Mets effectively swapping affiliates. The new Blue Jays affiliate is the Buffalo Bisons, which makes sense as teams continue to try to get their affiliates closer to their big league clubs. The Mets then picked up the Las Vegas 51s, the former Blue Jays affiliate.

At the Class-A level, the Pittsburgh Pirates changed their short season affiliate from the State College Spikes to the Jamestown Jammers. State College was picked up by the St. Louis Cardinals. That leaves the Miami Marlins looking for a new Class A short season affiliate.

Rumors swirl on Athletics’ stadium

Long time Los Angeles Times writer Bill Shaikin is the latest to throw his opinions at the Oakland Athletics’ stadium situation. In a story that talks about the Athletics’ and Los Angeles Angels’ spending habits and the Athletics’ paltry playoff ticket prices, he drops a bomb in the middle. saying a decision might come on the Athletics’ stadium by the end of the year.

His theory is that Bud Selig isn’t going to rule totally in favor of the San Francisco Giants or the Athletics but that some sort of compromise solution will rule the day. One possible compromise is that the Athletics guarantee their financial projections in the event they’re given the San Jose ballpark. There were no details on what conditions the Giants would be given.

This prompted a response from Athletics owner Lew Wolff, who said that if the financial conditions were put in place, it would kill his chances at getting the San Jose ballpark. He said that if that were the case, MLB might as well tell the Athletics “no.”

MLB releases 2013 schedule

While the release of the tentative baseball schedule is only a little newsworthy, this year’s schedule is particularly interesting because Houston Astros move from the National League to the American League. This will be an unprecedented schedule because we’ll have at least one interleague game every day, each team will play 19 divisional games and then there’s the World Baseball Classic during spring training.

Opening night is March 31; ESPN will carry that game, with teams to be determined. April 1 will see the bulk of the Opening Day games and we’ll see the Cincinnati Reds in their traditional home opener in an interleague game against the Angels. The regular season will end on a Sunday as opposed to the Wednesday finales most teams have played the last couple of years.

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